Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) celebrated a record year in 2013, with the stock surging nearly 350% during the year. That's a serious improvement over Tesla's gain of just 7% in 2011. The electric-car maker passed many milestones along the way, including reporting its first quarterly profit and winning the academy award of autos as its zero-emissions Model S took home Motor Trend's 2013 "Car of the Year" award. With the stock growing in value from $32 at the start of 2013 to where it trades today, around $147, it's hard to imagine there's much upside left in the name.
However, these three catalysts should move shares of Tesla higher in the new year, despite investors' soaring expectations for the stock.
This year, Tesla is on track to deliver more cars than ever before. The EV maker's CEO, Elon Musk, is confident that Tesla can hit an annualized rate of deliveries that exceeds 40,000 cars per year by late 2014. To put this in perspective, that amounts to roughly double Tesla's anticipated output rate of 20,000 cars in fiscal 2013.
In fact, Tesla looks to be ahead of the mark as the company now expects to deliver 21,500 vehicles worldwide for fiscal 2013. Moreover, Musk has a track record of under-promising and over-delivering. Therefore, I wouldn't be surprised if Tesla were to ramp up production even faster in the year ahead.
Tesla should unlock even more growth in the quarters to come as it expands operations overseas. The company is still in its infancy, and expanding into new markets, such as China, should help Tesla boost sales. The California-based company began taking reservations for its Model S in China last quarter and plans to make its first deliveries in the Asian country during the first quarter of 2014. In fact, Musk expects to have a handful of Model S cars on a boat to China as early as this month.
As the world's biggest market for premium sedans, China is an important market for Tesla. Of note is the fact that Tesla has already passed all of the homologation requirements in China, and launched a soft opening of its Beijing showroom in the region that was greeted with great fanfare. Meanwhile, the company has already received "hundreds of orders" for its Model S in Hong Kong, according to Bloomberg.
Additionally, the automaker continues to expand its Supercharger network, in both the United States and abroad, at an impressive clip. Tesla plans to have supercharger stations covering 80% of the U.S. and parts of Canada this year. On top of this, Tesla says it can cover 100% of the population of Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, and Luxembourg with Superchargers by the end of 2014.
While these stations create tremendous value for Tesla drivers, they don't cost the company as much as many investors might think. Thanks to a strategic partnership with SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY.DL), to supply the solar panels that help power Tesla's supercharger stations, Tesla is able to deploy these stations at a fraction of the cost. Investors can also expect Musk to make a cross-country trip in a Model S later this year using these Superchargers. Ultimately, more Superchargers in more locations should help fuel greater EV adoption.
Model X market debut
The third catalyst for the carmaker this year is the much-anticipated debut of Tesla's Model X crossover vehicle. Tesla will begin deliveries of its Model X in late 2014. Thanks to the success of its Model S, there's already a strong brand presence for the company. This should help boost sales of its crossover vehicle as more Model X cars hit the road later this year.
Blending the benefits of a minivan with the performance of a sports car, the Model X promises to a big hit with drivers in 2014. Built on the same drivetrain as Tesla's Model S, the Model X can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds. Tesla first unveiled the all-electric SUV in February 2012, and last year pushed production of the Model X into late 2014 to accommodate sales of its Model S vehicles. Moreover, shares of Tesla should pull ahead later in the year if Tesla can deliver on its revised promise of getting the Model X on the road in 2014.
With these catalysts, together with Elon Musks' visionary leadership, I expect Tesla to achieve another record year in 2014.